Where to turn when you had a bad day…
Losing weight is rarely easy. Even losing 5 pounds has always been hard for me. You can read more about my story and how much weight I've lost and gained, and lost… if you are interested but that's not what this is about.
I wanted to address one of my biggest problems with weight and that is Emotional eating.
Sometimes the strongest food cravings hit when you're at your weakest point emotionally. If you are like me, you may turn to food for comfort. However, consciously or unconsciously, when facing a difficult problem, feeling stressed or even feeling bored if you turn to food, you may be an emotional eater too!
Watch out for this pitfall on your healthy weight loss journey because emotional eating can sabotage your efforts.
Emotional eating often leads to eating too much, especially too much of high-calorie, sweet and fatty foods, or other foods that are not on your current health food plan. You may just eat more than you would normally eat because you are overwhelmed, sad, lonely or frustrated. Don't worry, there are ways to stop this bad habit.
Are you an emotional eater?
- Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
- Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)?
- Do you reward yourself with food?
- Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
- Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend?
- Do you feel powerless or out of control around food? (source)
I remember being 32 years old and wanting to lose just 5 pounds. I worked very hard doing all the wrong things to lose that weight! What worked for some people just didn't work for me.
I felt like a failure because even though I had followed plans and exercised I did not see a scale-loss. Looking back I wish I had just been happy with the way I looked, but I wasn't.
One of the ways I coped with failure (sometimes it wasn't truly a failure but just a “perceived” failure) was to “give up” and just feed my emotions with food.
It took me many years and trials and repeats to feel I held the power to controlling over my emotional eating habit. Here are some tips that may help you overcome emotional eating:
- Pray. If you do nothing else on this list, pray. Outloud, on paper, or in your head, just pray.
- Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you're feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over time, you might see patterns that reveal the connection between mood and food. I use myfitnesspal (great for accountability if you add friends–feel free to add me as a friend, I don't mind), and I have also used several paper food diaries.
- Tame your stress. If stress contributes to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique; whatever works for you.
- Have a hunger reality check. Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate just a few hours ago and don't have a rumbling stomach, you're probably not hungry. Give the craving a time to pass. Learn to tell the difference between actual hunger and emotional hunger.
- Get support. You're more likely to give in to emotional eating if you lack a good support network. Lean on family and friends or consider joining a support group. I started a local group so that I could get and give support with a group of like-minded ladies.
- Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you're not hungry, distract yourself and substitute a healthier behavior. Take a walk, watch a movie, play with your cat, listen to music, read, surf the Internet or call a friend.
- Take away temptation. Don't keep hard-to-resist comfort foods in your home. And if you feel angry or blue, postpone your trip to the grocery store until you have your emotions in check.
- Don't skimp on sleep. Often when you are tired, you may turn to food to give you energy, and more often than not we reach for less than healthy options. If you are reaching for food when you are tired, try taking a short nap instead! Work on getting enough sleep each night.
- Don't deprive yourself. When trying to lose weight, you might limit calories too much, eat the same foods repeatedly and banish treats. This may just serve to increase your food cravings, especially in response to emotions. Eat satisfying amounts of healthier foods, enjoy an occasional treat, and get plenty of variety to help curb cravings.
- Snack healthy. If you feel the urge to eat between meals, choose a low-fat, low-calorie snack, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip or unbuttered popcorn. Or try low-fat, lower-calorie versions of your favorite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.
- Learn from setbacks. If you have an episode of emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future. Focus on the positive changes you're making in your eating habits and give yourself credit for making changes that'll lead to better health. (source)
The final and best tip is a little more detailed. It's an especially useful book I read last year. This book helped me gain control over my emotional eating patterns. It's called Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst.
This is a great resource for anyone struggling with emotional eating. You can download the Introduction or Finding Your Want To, HERE. You've got to find your want to or you won't stick to any plan. I've been over and over this with my therapist. Everything we do is a choice. You choose to either give in to that temptation (it isn't always food) or you choose to say “NO” to the temptation. It really is that simple.
It is about more than staying motivated, but you'll learn more about that in the book and devotions. This Healthy Eating Go To Script is hanging in my food pantry. I see it when I walk into my pantry to grab a comfort food. It is a reminder that this is about being EMPOWERED and you can download this Week One Fridge Sign to print as a reminder that you too are empowered and you make the choices. I do have the choice and I can say no, not now. It's a reminder that I won't let food consume me.